Apr 19, 2010

Tanking: Do the right thing

Yeah, Facepalm Bear is back again. This time it’s the tanks’ turns in the barrel. I’ve been rolling healbot for frosties more so than tanking, simply because I find it frankly easier and less stressful. If I’m not healing I’ve been on the mage shooting fire around. From either perspective I’ve seen some doozies of fails when it comes to tanking. Granted most times things go smoothly. But when they screw up, it’s usually big time.

So let see what the FPB has to say today.

Don’t Be a Hero: Even if you’re pushing 50k health, there is no need to try to pull the entire instance in one shot. Pull two groups, no problem. Going larger than that rarely goes without someone pulling agro. The best example of this was a bright and shiny T-10 pally tank over 50k health that decided to pull the entire first hall of Utgarde Keep. Things went well…right up to the point he got stunned and his avoidance went all to crap. No matter how big your life pool is, you are not invulnerable. If you still feel the need to pull big than at least…

Speak the F^~% Up!: If you insist on pulling big, open your damn mouth and let the party know. This is important for two reasons. First it let’s you round them up and the DPS can hold off until you’ve got them where you want them. Secondly (and more importantly) it puts your healer in the right mindset. Your healer can be preventatively healing for the expected damage rather than getting taken by surprise by the fact that your tank just ran out of range. It is so much easier to heal big when you start ahead of it than to scramble and catch up. And if the healer draws agro due to your “heroic antics” then you are nine kinds of fail.

Control the Locale: Pop quiz. By show of hands, who wants a fast heroic run? OK good. Who wants to move along briskly with few snags? Good, good. Ok so where are you fighting the following?

• The Commander boss in Heroic Nexus
• The statue & mojo mobs before the Collossus/Elemental boss in Gun’drak
• The all-caster groups in Hellfire Citadel Ramparts

If you answered any of these “Where they stand” then you need to go back to basic tank training (or at least not queue tank for a while). More often than not, where you fight is going to dictate if you’re going to have surprises. Fears will happen. Melee DPS needs to be behind their targets to be most effective.  Too close and they could pull additional groups.

By bringing the mobs to you rather than you running to them, you control these factors.  You lessen the risk of pulling more that you wanted. Remember, as the tank if you have to scramble because of positioning, you failed. Even if you save it, you still failed.

The Key to Smooth:The key to a smooth run is simple. It’s not what you pull or how many. It’s all in how you do it. A little communication and a little bit of forethought goes a long way. They definitely go further than having to scramble. Don’t get complacent because the higher gear on most folks these days grants them higher survivability. Do it right. Do it smooth. Be the example. Be the tank. Make the Bear happy will ya?

Apr 14, 2010

Let it all BURN!

I’ve been setting the World on fire lately! I’ve recently started playing my mage again to trying to rid him of his few remaining blues and outdated trinkets. I’d forgotten how truly fun a fire spec can be. There are just so many things that make them fun.
  • The satisfying FWOOSH! of ignite after a crit that would make Richard so proud.
  • The fireworks of explosions after tagging four mobs with Living Bomb, making it look like the Fourth of July. Enough internal combustion to make Vael and Geddon smile.
  • Instant cast Pyroblasts and that big ball of goodness is always cool. Hot streak rules!
Fire mages are just too much fun. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Arcane may be still king of the meters. Frost may be the PvP defending champ. But fire is just way cooler…er hotter.  Come on! You’re hurling frickin’ fire around for Elune’s sake!

It took a while for me to figure out how to get decent DPS numbers out of my spec, but now that I’ve got it down ALL WILL BURN! Muhahaha!

“I’M CASTING FLAMESTRIKE!!!! Ooooooo, you're on fire!!!!” 

Caster DPS LFG, baby.

Apr 8, 2010

Black Belt Test - PASSED!

Nearly four years of hard work. Three months of study, preparation, and practice. More study. More practice. It all came to a head on what would be the most challenging day of my life.

April 3, 2010 – my black belt test.

It was brutally hard. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for just how hard it would be. I was wrong. The workout was tougher than anything I’d ever done before. Once the instructors had pushed us to and beyond our limits, we then had to concentrate and execute our katas (forms) and defense techniques. Ninety self-defense techniques, six open-hand katas, and four weapon katas.

Think about that for a moment. Think of the hardest test you’ve ever had to take, either in school or professionally. Now think about having to do that after having run a marathon. My body was screaming for recovery, for a time-out (not happening). I couldn’t focus because I was so tired, so sweaty, so thirsty. I made mistakes simply because it was so hard to focus.

After the exhausting workout and the tension filled practical test, the real fun begins. Three minutes of full contact sparring with the instructors and their assisting black belts. Three minutes straight - no stops - with a new instructor swapping in every 30 seconds. Remember all that exhaustion from earlier? Yeah it’s still there.

Before the testing, I originally thought to myself “Once we get to sparring, it’s almost over. Just three more minutes and you’re home, Ant.” A silver lining of sorts. Yeah…not so much.

When it was my time to spar, the silver lining mentality went out the window. My only thoughts were “Just survive.” I thought I could keep track of how many I had sparred with and how many to go. Yeah…no again. It was all a blur. I got a good beat down. I may have had a good shot or two in there, but for the most part I got pounded. I got one decent (though weak) shot to the head on one of the instructors. Part of me cheered inside. The other parts went “What the heck did you do that for!?!? Now he’s gonna tear us up!”

I didn’t give up though. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. My helmet came off. Keep going. Goggles came down…tore ‘em off. It ended in much the same way it went: with me defensively on my back just trying to survive. When time was called I was still tensed waiting for the next opponent. It took a few seconds to realize no more were coming.

As I stood up, it still didn’t click. It wasn’t until one of the instructors (the same one I got that headshot on) said something that that it made it settle in. "Welcome to the black belt club."  It was done.

I've passed my black belt test. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It had to be. Otherwise it wouldn’t mean as much. I truly feel different now. I have a renewed sense of confidence. I have a tremendous feeling of pride. There are few things in my life that I’d consider as much as an achievement as this. So if you notice a bit of a swagger in my step or my chin a bit higher, understand that I’ve earned it. And it’s something that will stay with me forever. It’s something that no one can take away. And I’m really looking forward to my boys (and hopefully the girl some day) walking this same path and feeling that same pain, pride, and accomplishment.

Now if I could just get the soreness out of my legs, I’d be all set. Five days later and I’m still feeling it. Then again, it is another proud reminder of it all. Advil? Nah, I’m good. Let me relish this for a just bit longer.